Friday, June 23, 2017


For our latest South Dakota trip, we rented an RV. A “rig,” to be exact.

Yikes, now I guess this really is a Third Third blog. (There are LOTS of retiree RV blogs.) I feel compelled to add that we haven’t given up camping or sleeping in a tent, but the RV was the latest New Thing to try.

I also feel compelled to add that my New Thing was as a passenger. Either that, or we could spend every other day at a spa, massaging my neck and shoulder muscles. Besides, I’m a great navigator, and Tim’s a great driver.

Tim did all the arranging, but we both went to the rental company to pick it up and get whisked through the orientation. This is what I remember: he showed us a minuscule blue speck on the front of the beige hood and marked it on the walk-thru sheet so we wouldn’t get blamed. I don’t think blaming had anything to do with it. I think it was designed to scare us into thinking that any speck could result in Damages. (The capital-D is not an error.) It worked.

This is what we didn’t remember: Somewhere in the RV is a button that slides the side of the RV out, giving us lots more room. We knew it was there – we’d seen it once – but we searched high and low and couldn’t find it. The manual told us how to press it, but not where it was located.

Much later, as I was opening the freezer, I discovered the door above it. Aha! The slide button!

I guess every new RV renter has to face the first trip to a gas station. The passenger person has to get out of the car and find where to put the gas nozzle. The driver person has to fit the 24-feet of RV into the gas station, which means the passenger person has to run around outside, waving her hands and shouting at the driver person. In fact, that’s her job: at gas stations, restaurants, camper sites, parking lots – waving and shouting. She’s good at it.
We blissfully negotiated Colorado and entered Wyoming. Suddenly, the radio and Tim’s iPhone went nuts: Tornado Warning! Hail storm warning! Hail the size of softballs! Right where we are! We passed a car on the road with its windshield GONE, smashed by hail. Oh, no, Oh, no! Where are we going to hide? How are we going to protect the RV???

We pulled into a restaurant to eat so if the hail returned, we could quickly race out and move the RV into the gas station to hide under the awning. The waitress was distraught: she’d canceled her insurance coverage and now her car was wrecked by the hail. Or the tossed tornado debris – the disasters  were compounding. I started thinking fondly of earthquakes back home.

Amazingly, the weather cleared, the sun came out, and we new RV-ers reflected how we didn’t have to worry about non-hail/non-tornado weather. We watched tent campers run after their tent in the blowing wind; we noticed sprinkles without any unease. Even the one night when the campground was full, the town of Hawk Springs, Wyoming (population 45) had a wonderful restaurant whose owner let us camp by the playground. In RV comfort.

Admittedly, we don’t take full advantage of RV comfort: we never used the shower, and we never (ahem) took a dump. We had campgrounds for that, and we’re still a little cautious of that whole dump station thing.

One by one, I watched all the people ahead of us at the dump station, asking questions, observing all the details: “How come your hose is short and ours is long?” “Do you have color-coded hoses?” “When do we put the little blue de-smeller in the toilet?” I’m sure I was a real treat.
It was the same at the self-service car wash. What with pre-soak and tire-clean and wash and rinse and spot-rinse, all the options were very confusing. The rental man had told us we should wash the bugs off so we could make sure they were bugs and not scratches. Tim took over the hose while I waved and shouted to make sure he caught all the dirty spots. I am VERY good at waving and shouting.

Except that neither of us noticed that one of the windows was open till we were all done.


  1. As a newly divorced and homeless person, I have been considering an RV as an alternative to buying a house (in case I find I can't afford it). I was already feeling a bit intimidated by it, but you did not help!! I would be the one running around waving and yelling, but I don't have the person actually doing the driving and backing up, etc. I'm thinking more in terms of a very small camper or one of those cute tear-drop trailers. And a yappy dog for protection. For now, I'm house-sitting, cat-sitting and dog-sitting. Which is a new thing for me.

    1. Not to worry: I've discovered that other RVers are perfectly willing to be the wavers and shouters, too. You'd still have to be the driver....

  2. Barbara. My folks were intrepid tent campers until retirement, when my dad bought a 1972 VW camper-van and fixed it up. He put in a stove, but most importantly, it already had a bed inside!

    Much easier to handle and to refill.


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